Fox Chapel rallies past Plum, grinds out Section 2-5A victory

Thursday, January 28, 2021 | 10:04 PM

The Plum girls basketball team couldn’t have asked for a better start to its Section 2-5A home matchup against Fox Chapel at Plum High School.

The Mustangs scored the first 13 points, and pressure defense confounded the Foxes into six turnovers.

But Fox Chapel responded to the early adversity, rallied to take the lead in the second quarter and went on to grind out a 48-40 victory.

“I know I say it often, but we want to be resilient and adaptable,” Fox Chapel coach Marty Matvey said.

“We get down at the start, and (senior forward) Ellie (Schwartzman) is in foul trouble. We were hurting ourselves. Once we were able to wake the girls up and they realized they were beating themselves in that moment, we were able to handle the pressure and adversity. We bent, but we didn’t break.”

With the win, Fox Chapel improved to 3-5 overall and 3-3 in section play. It was its second win in a row after a three-game losing skid. It defeated Mars, 54-45, on Monday.

Plum slipped to 2-4 overall, 2-3 in the section.

“We have a good team with good players. We just have to be able to finish,” Plum coach Steve Elsier said.

Fox Chapel opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to break open a tie score and lead 39-32. Senior Ally Hager connected on three of four foul shots and added a layup, and freshman Sarah Slember also converted a bucket.

Plum senior Jamie Seneca converted 1 of 2 from the line with 1 minute, 31 seconds left to draw Plum to within three at 40-37. But that was as close as the Mustangs got the rest of the game.

Fox Chapel registered 16 foul shots in the fourth quarter and made 10 of them to help close out the game. Hager scored seven of her nine points in the final stanza.

“We’re learning a lot about how to close games,” Matvey said. “We were in the same situation against Mars on Monday. We weathered the storm and worked together in the fourth when it was closing time. That was the most important and impressive thing. For us to go 2-0, it puts us right back in the conversation where we want to be.”

Foxes sophomore forward Elsie Smith, back on the court after recovering from injury, hit double-digits in scoring for the second time in three games. She finished with a team-best 12.

Plum freshman Megan Marston led her team with 15 points. Ten of her 15 came in the first half.

Mustangs senior Kennedie Montue, who came into the game averaging 24.8 points, battled foul trouble and a targeted defensive gameplan from the Foxes to finish with 12 points.

She added seven rebounds and four blocks.

Schwartzman picked up her fourth foul with 5:01 left in the third quarter, but she was able to avoid the disqualifying fifth foul the rest of the way. She finished with five points, including three points from the foul line in the fourth, and pulled down nine rebounds.

Senior Domenica Delaney added eight points for Fox Chapel.

The Foxes mounted their first-half comeback late in the opening quarter as Smith scored her team’s first two points on a pair of free throws at the 2:43 mark.

Delaney followed with a pair of jumpers in the final minute of the frame to draw the Foxes to within 13-6 at the end of one quarter.

Fox Chapel continued to rally through the first half of the second quarter. This time, several Plum turnovers led to a 16-2 run. The Foxes took the lead for the first time, 16-15, on a layup from Hager with 5:00 left until halftime.

Plum then regained order on offense and closed the half on a 7-2 run. But two free throws from Smith with three seconds to go until the break broke a 22-22 tie and gave Fox Chapel the lead heading into the locker room.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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